Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Crusaders crying foul over £29.2m Windsor revamp

One of Northern Ireland’s top football clubs is threatening legal action against Stormont over plans for a multi-million pound revamp of Windsor Park.

Earlier this month the Irish Football Association (IFA) said it had formally submitted a planning application for the redevelopment of the home of Linfield and the Northern Ireland international team.

The £29.2m project — £25.2m of which would be provided by the Executive — will see the stadium’s capacity expanded to 18,000.

The ground is owned by Linfield Football Club and rivals Crusaders are furious at what they allege is “unlawful State aid”.

The club has lodged a Freedom of Information request with the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) seeking clarity on a number of matters relating to the scheme.

And Crusaders say they are contemplating High Court action and a complaint to the European Commission over DCAL’s handling of the redevelopment.

Last night DCAL confirmed it had received a request for information and was considering its response.

Crusaders have asked for information relating to:

  • Expenditures by the department relating to the development of Windsor Park, including planning and architectural fees, planning applications and construction costs.
  • Full terms of invitation to tender documents and tenders received for the redevelopment work.
  • All documentation relating to assessments by the department of State aid rules in regards to the redevelopment.
  • The terms of any land agreement entered into between the department/IFA and Linfield, including details of rental payments or payments from the gates.

A spokesman for DCAL said: “The department has recently received a request for information in relation to this and is currently considering its response. Until this consideration is completed it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

A spokesman for Crusaders declined to comment when contacted by the Belfast Telegraph.

Linfield and the IFA did not respond to calls.

Background

Earlier this month the Irish Football Association said it had formally submitted a planning application for the proposed redevelopment of Windsor Park. The stadium is owned by Irish League giants Linfield. The £29.2m project, with £25.2m provided by Stormont, would see the stadium expanded to an 18,000-seat capacity. If the plans are approved, the IFA and design partners RPS hope work can begin on the new stadium by next September.

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